Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond is moving along briskly in its new digital life as an ebook. The hardcover edition has sold out. Used copies are going for as much as $150 on book and auction sites, but new clothbound copies are history. The electronic transformation is good news on several counts:
The book will continue to be available. For now, it is on Kindle. Publisher Malcolm Harris of Parkside Publications tells me that he expects to have it up on Apple and Barnes & Noble soon.
The ebook edition has all of the features of the hardbound, including the nearly 200 photographs, the chapter notes, the solo transcriptions, the discography, the extensive index and Dave and Iola Brubeck’s foreword.
The ebook edition is easily portable. The most frequent complaint about the five-pound, 10-and-a-half-by-11-inch original was, “How am I supposed to read this thing on an airplane?” Now you can, after the pilot says it’s okay to fire up your Kindle, iPad, Nook or Sony Reader.
The ebook sells for less than a third of the list price of the original hardcover edition.
Among other honors, Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond won an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award and the Jazz Journalists Association Book of the Year Award. Here are a few of its plaudits:
Scrupulously researched and written with an attractive combination of affection and candor, it casts a bright light on Desmond’s troubled psyche without devaluing his considerable achievements as an artist. “Any of the great composers of melodies—Mozart, Schubert, Gershwin—would have been gratified to have written what Desmond created spontaneously,” Mr. Ramsey says. Strong words, but Take Five makes them stick. —Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal
The telling is lyrical, funny, nostalgic, provocative, and allusive — just like a Paul Desmond solo.” —Gary Giddins, author of Weather Bird: Jazz at the Dawn of its Second Century
Doug Ramsey, the saxophonist’s friend for 20 years before Desmond’s death in 1977, constructs the full person as well as digging out much more of his writing than was known. A major piece of jazz scholarship, the book cuts no corners. —Ben Ratliff, The New York Times
Desmond was fascinated by electronic technology. We can only imagine his delight if he knew that his life story had been digitized.
To order the Kindle edition, please go here. To listen to Paul sounding the way he looks above, play this video.
Summertime, CTI, 1968. Paul Desmond, alto saxophone; Herbie Hancock, piano; Ron Carter, bass; Airto Moreira, drums; Joe Beck, guitar; Wayne Andre, Paul Faulise, Bill Watrous, Kai Winding, trombone; John Eckert, Joe Shepley, Marvin Stamm, trumpet; Ray Alonge, Tony Miranda, French horn; Don Sebesky, arranger.